Sunday, February 20, 2011

Intention to hire parents declines but value & ability sky high

"Always look for the positive and play to your strengths", I often find myself saying to return to work parents getting back into the paid employment game. But for many parents, it's hard to go into interviews brimming with confidence when you hear that your chances of being hired have dimished from a year ago 44% to 36% as reported by the Regus Working Mothers Study (2011).

It's the usual culprits of fear of losing the employee because they leave to have another child after the training investment has been made (30%) and the need for flexible work arrangements that continue to be the key issues employers still haven't found the answers to. Almost a third (32%) of Australian companies are concerned about employing part-time returning mothers because they may not be able to offer the flexibility and commitment of other employees.

But there's some good news; the majority of businesses now value returning mothers, with 72% globally and 77% nationally, declaring they believe companies that ignore part-time returning mothers are missing out on a significant and valuable part of the employment pool. In addition, fully 56% regard working mums as offering skills that are difficult to find in the current market; and 57% declare that they value returning mothers because they offer experience and skills without demanding top salaries. In Australia, the skills and experience working mothers bring to the workplace are particularly valued (63%).

If Australia's greatest economic challenge of the decade is the lack of skilled labour (according to the Gillard Government) then businesses might not have any choice but to hire skilled parents and finds ways to make the employment relationship work; and it might just be easier than employers think such as the introduction of realistic flexible work policies and 'how to guide'for managers and employees - see our list of practical family friendly workplace initiatives. Businesses that bother to invest in family friendly workplace initiatives are likely to have their pick of the best talent - both parents and parents of the future.

Source Regus Working Mothers Study as reported inHuman Capital Magazine Feb 2011. Full Article.

Paternity Leave should be made mandatory?

Human Capital this month reported new research from Singapore that outlines the case for mandatory paternity leave. Given all the recent social movement and government support for paid parental leave in Australia, is it actually time to address the often undebated issue of 'paternity leave'?

My husband recently enquired about taking paid leave to be the primary carer of our 3rd child born just prior to the introduction paid parental leave and was knocked back by his employer because their workplace only offered paid maternity leave and fathers weren't eligible!

According to the HC article, the majority of parents in Singapore believe paternity leave should be made compulsory. According to a survey by the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, 91% of respondents believed paternity should be made law.

Half of the parents said their employers already offered paid paternity leave, and of these the bulk (59%) gets between one and three days of such leave. Of the fathers who have a paternity leave option, three quarters took the leave.

AWARE says there are many reasons for Singapore’s low birth rate, but two important factors in trying to reverse the trend are better support for parenting responsibilities and policies that promote gender equality. The association cites studies that show a direct correlation, in developed nations, between the level of gender equality in a society and its total fertility rate (TFR).

Singapore’s current parenting leave policies – four months for new mothers and none for new fathers – reinforce gender stereotypes of women as caregivers and men as providers. These policies entrench gender inequality.

Specifically, AWARE has called for five policy changes:

· Make paid paternity leave of two weeks mandatory, with the cost shared between the employer and the state

· Convert the 4th month of maternity leave into ‘parental leave’ to be taken by either parent, with the state sharing the cost with the employer when the father takes this leave

· Offer a ‘parenting present’ of $4,000 to couples where the father takes the 4th month of parental leave – A significant number of the parents (57%) said they would welcome having the option of transferring parenting leave from mother to father.

· Convert the currently mandated 6 days of paid childcare leave into dependent’s leave, with ‘dependents’ including older children and parents

· Extend to unwed parents the same parenting leave benefits enjoyed by married parents – an overwhelming 91% said unwed parents deserve the same benefits as their married counterparts.

AWARE says it will forward its proposals to the relevant authorities for their consideration. Read full article.